Pleasanton Weekly

News - January 22, 2010

Pleasanton asks BART to scrap Staples Ranch extension plans

City responds to agency plans to run elevated tracks to downtown Livermore

by Jeb Bing

If BART officials didn't get the message Jan. 6, Pleasanton officials are sending it again today: the public doesn't want elevated trains traveling through eastern Pleasanton and across the Chain of Lakes in BART's proposed route to extend service to Livermore.

"Through the years, Pleasanton has had an official policy of encouraging the BART extension to Livermore," City Manager Nelson Fialho states in his letter to the transit system authorities.

"But we're opposed to any BART to Livermore extension that runs on, over or below El Charro Road or through the Chain of Lakes areas that are within Pleasanton's sphere of influence," he said.

Fialho's response to the nine versions of BART's environmental impact report was sent yesterday, the final date for commenting on the agency's 200-page proposal. Tucked in the lengthy report as "alignment alternatives" 1a, 1b, 2a, 3a and 5 are routes that would extend BART to Livermore from the Pleasanton station on tracks elevated 40 feet high cutting across I-580 and winding their way to downtown Livermore. Some of the routes take the tracks across the eastern part of Staples Ranch and across the lakes.

Multi-million-dollar development plans now being approved for Staples Ranch as well as future open space and recreational areas for the Chain of Lakes will be annexed into the city of Pleasanton in the coming years. At least two of the developers, including Hendrick Automotive that is planning to build a new auto mall in the section of Staples that would be under the BART tracks, object to the route.

At the Jan. 6 meeting, more than 30 speakers addressed their comments to BART Director John McPartland and BART Project Manager Malcolm Quint. No one, including several from Livermore who attended the Pleasanton meeting, favored any of BART's routing plans that put tracks in Staples Ranch or across the lakes. Most favored keeping the proposed BART extension in the I-580 median where it now is, extending the tracks east to Greenville Road where BART already owns property suitable for a station.

In view of this opposition and the issues outlined in his EIR comment letter, Fialho asked BART to remove all of the proposed alignments affecting Staples Ranch. He had support from Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Zone 7 board member Chris Moore who told McPartland that they don't want BART trains cutting across the Chain of Lakes.

"Pleasanton remains committed to facilitating the expansion of BART to Livermore, whether such expansion includes stations adjacent to I-580, in downtown Livermore or in other Livermore locations," Fialho said.

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